Inquiry Basics and Constructivist Theory

The Rivers of Life program is firmly grounded in the principles of Inquiry. Inquiry is an educational or learning process that is based on the constructivist theory of how students learn. Constructivists believe that an individual gains knowledge by constructing reality through experiences. A more traditional approach would view learning as acquiring facts and skills through memorization, drill, and practice. Constructivism is an internal process as students check new information against old rules (individual student beliefs). If discrepancies appear the students experience dissonance and need to build new rules (new knowledge).

Traditional approach: Concept introduction, practice, application, further exploration, review
Constructivist approach: Exploration (inquiry), invention, discovery

We invite you to learn more about Inquiry, by exploring the topics below!

What does an Inquiry-based classroom look like?
Why use inquiry?
How can I use inquiry in the classroom?
How does inquiry relate to literacy?
Who asks the questions?
Isn't inquiry only for science teachers?
What about standards?
How do I use reflection to check to see if my students are thinking and learning?
What about grades and assessment?

Return to the Inquiry Projects home page or go to the Teacher Support page

Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
Phone: 651-523-2480 Fax: 651-523-2987
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